You believe you’re a good leader because you delegate, develop, and encourage others. You hire good people with great skills who know what needs to be done. The work gets completed on time and within budget.
But something is missing. It’s quiet out there where they do their work (physically nearby and virtually). And it’s quiet in here in your office. Your team doesn’t interact with others on the team and they don’t come in to ask for your guidance.
Being a good leader and hiring good people who get the work done isn’t enough. People want to connect and collaborate. Consider what hidden potential could be tapped in your employees if you fostered work relationships with them and amongst them by:
Stepping out of your comfort zone by getting to know them on a personal level. This doesn’t mean you have to be best buddies, but it does mean creating a foundation for trust and relationships. People are naturally hard wired for connection, and they want to know you before they can trust you. Sure, things aren’t bad, but could they be better if you treated them even more like the valued human beings they are by getting to know a bit about them?
Asking questions that let them know that you appreciate them and their ideas. What do they especially like to do at work? What do they dislike? What new ideas do they have about the organization’s work? What do they need from you? What’s going well for them? What small improvement in the way we do our work could make the biggest difference?
Considering ways to connect to them differently. Take them offsite or on a “retreat” that requires you to get to know each other on a deeper level. Hire a consultant or retreat leader if you must, or keep it simple and allow everyone to bring something to the offsite that tells a story about them. And then let them tell it. You might all be surprised at what you learn about each other that can help foster connections.
Asking for their help with work dilemmas and sticky situations. Not only will it show that you respect their thoughts, but if you do it as a team, the collective ideas can be very innovative and helpful. If done without critiquing the ideas (at least initially), it can be fun and create an atmosphere of openness and inclusion. Do this regularly, and let your team members also bring their own dilemmas and situations to get ideas on how to deal with them.
Orchestrating and expecting inclusion and collaboration: Look for ways can you connect your team members with each other on interests that they can work on collaboratively. Set an expectation amongst the team that they will ask their peers to bring their expertise into projects that their peers are responsible for. You might open some eyes and ears on the work of your organization in a different way.
There are lots of ways to raise the bar in the connective fabric within your team that will boost performance from good to great. Consider trying one and watch what happens!
More From Mary Jo Asmus
Mary Jo Asmus is an executive/leadership coach whose work spans decades of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of executives, leaders and teams in Fortune 500, mid- and small-sized business, governments and nonprofits. She focuses on facilitating individuals and teams from first-line supervisor to the C-suite to create, develop, and influence the relationships that can make them extraordinary.